Vladimir Putin: It makes no sense to put off the bill on NGOs until September

Russian President Vladimir Putin argued on Tuesday that it would make no sense to accept a proposal that the next reading of a draft law on "foreign agents" in the State Duma be put off until September.

"I'm not sure that by putting it off and off, we'd achieve legal perfection," Putin said during a meeting with human rights activists.

The planned law would confer "foreign agent" status on nongovernmental organizations that are financed from abroad and engage in politics.

"The president concurred with the point that provisions in the law must be clarified but he doesn't consider it necessary to put off debates on the draft law until autumn," Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Human Rights Council, a presidential consultative body, told reporters.

"The president sanctioned the deputy chief of his staff [Vyacheslav Volodin] to extremely carefully work through the point about what are the 'political activities of [nongovernmental] organizations,'" Fedotov said.

Besides, Putin accepted that "financing from foreign sources is not by itself something absolutely negative but everything depends on what those sources are and what the specific circumstances are," Fedotov said. "I understand that he gave orders to strictly clarify this point as well."

At the same time Putin has proposed tripling the government financing of non-governmental organizations (NGO) to 3 billion rubles from 1 billion rubles.

"As for NGOs, I agree with my colleagues who think that, if we impose stricter conditions on the work of these organizations, we certainly have to increase our own financing of NGOs. I suppose that it should be at least three times as much, that is, should be increased to 3 billion from 1 billion rubles," Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that, if need be, he could personally ask parliamentarians to amend the bills on NGO and libel that they are considering now.

"If we see that these bills need to be adjusted, I am prepared to ask the deputies personally to make relevant amendments," Putin said at a meeting with human rights defenders in discussing the bills on Tuesday.

Taking part in the meeting were Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin, head of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov, Commissioner on Businessmen's Rights Boris Titov, and deputy presidential chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin.

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